Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Supreme Court shows Deliberate Indifference to Justice

Imagine that you were locked up behind bars for 18 years and sentenced to death row for a crime you didn't commit all because a corrupted prosecutor's office intentionally hid evidence during your trial that they knew would have set you free.  Now imagine that, by nothing short of a miracle, you manage to find this evidence a few weeks before your execution, get a full pardon from prison, hire a lawyer, successfully sue the pants off the prosecutor's office for hiding the evidence in the first place but then your case is tossed out by the Supreme Court of the United States - not because they disagree that the prosecutor's office hid evidence (in fact all 9 justices agree on that point) - but instead they toss your case out because, in their divine judicial opinion, they don't see any "pattern" of the prosecutor's office doing this to other people besides you (because one life ruined is apparently not enough).  Sounds like a John Grisham novel with a bad ending, right?  If only that were so.  Unfortunately, this is the true life story of what happened to John Thompson in this week's Supreme Court case Connick v. Thompson.  We will break down how the majority opinion of the Court (authored by Clarence Thomas...go figure) gets it wrong after the jump.

Guest Post: President? But I asked for a Savior.

Today's Guest Post comes to us from a regular on thefreshxpress.com, Stephanie Felix, who runs her own blog Single Black Female Addicted to Retail http://www.sdotchronicles.com/ So show our guest some love as we debate America's expectations of the President: 


****
What I’m about to say may be a little bit risqué. They say there are 3 things that one must never talk about: Sex, Politics and Religion. Sex, been there, done that, we broke that rule a long time ago. But some aspects of politics and religion have yet to be explored. Furthermore, explored in relationship to each other. So, I will preface this by saying that I’m taking this opportunity in this outlet to explore the two seemingly different subject matters as they relate to one another. 

Idol worship is as old as religion itself. Take for example the Biblical story of Moses’ retreat to Mount Sinai and the Israelites down below feeling so neglected and forlorn that they created an idol out of molten gold. Today, we regard it as hero worship in hopes of popularizing a term with less religious connotations, therefore making it less controversial. But it is conceptually the same thing. We spend hours upon hours following the lives of celebrities, including what they do, who they’re with, and where they are on blogs, news sites, magazines, newspapers, entertainment shows and the radio. It is so ingrained in our everyday lives that we don’t realize we do it. Seriously consider how much of your week you spend on Media Takeout, Perez Hilton or Necole Bitchie? Now, consider the amount of time you devote to religious practices or spiritual enlightenment. Focusing our attentions on celebrities or public figures gives us an opportunity to focus less on our own lives and take a glimpse at a life that seems more exciting than our own.

I have a theory that you may not agree with: we got a President, but really and truly, we were asking for a savior. And I don’t mean a savior necessarily in a religious or Biblical context, because that would be sacrilegious. But more of a conceptual savior, an entity appear as if by miracle to save us from every wrong, completely eradicating decades of institutionalized injustices in a four year term. What spurred my interest in this subject were some comments made by Sean John (Diddy) on various blogger sites on the web. While he made it clear he was still a “fan” of the President, he also boldly stated, “I just want the President to do better.” He went on to say, “He's the person that we believed in so I pray night and day that he understands how God ordained his presidency. I feel there was a promise made to God to look after people that were less fortunate, and many of those people are African-American..." And finally, "It's something he might not get reelected for, but we elected him…he owes us. I'd rather have a black president that was man enough to say that he was doing something for black people have one term than a president who played the politics game have two terms."  Notice the wording he uses. President Barack Obama is a politician and leader of the free world, not your homeboy or a member of Bad Boy Entertainment. As such, it is his responsibility to consider various and diverse interests, issues and agendas, not just those of the African American community but of international diplomacy and the entire United States. 

Below is a listing of just a few of the many accomplishments thus far for his term (see link for more extensive list):

  • Authorized a $789 billion economic stimulus plan (2009) * Note: 1/3 in tax cuts for working-class families; 1/3 to states for infrastructure projects; 1/3 to states to prevent the layoff of police officers, teachers, etc. at risk of losing their jobs because of state budget shortfalls
  • Historic healthcare reform bill signed – $940 billion over 10 years (2010) * Note: 32 million additional Americans will receive healthcare coverage and costs will be lowered for most Americans, but many of the goals are phased in over four years
  • Began the phased withdrawal of US troops from Iraq (2009); continuing the withdrawal (2011)
  • In November 2009, Obama extended unemployment benefits for one million workers and expanded coverage for some existing homeowners who are buying again (2009)
  • Credit card companies are prohibited from raising rates without advance notification or arbitrarily if customers are paying bills on time (2010)
  • Called on Congress to deliver a Jobs Bill (2010)
  • Signed the HIRE ACT to stimulate economic recovery (2010) * Note: The bill includes: tax cuts for small businesses who hire someone unemployed for at least two months; small businesses can write off their investments in equipment this year; etc.


I know from studying psychology that expectation is a powerful thing.  Whether or not it is realistic, when our expectations don’t meet the reality, conflict ensues. How many individuals are actually familiar with the role and responsibilities of the President as outlined in the Constitution or the system of checks and balances? And how many know the accomplishments of the President’s term thus far or the limitations of his power? I’d be confident to say very few, but yet they feel comfortable in saying they are dissatisfied with the presidency. We were expecting instant results and change from our rockstar President. That is not the real world. The fact of the matter is that we have been incredibly critical of the Presidency because of our highly unrealistic expectations. Likewise, there hasn’t been any increase of proactive involvement, activism or social awareness on our part. President Obama is a mere mortal, like the rest of us using his resources to bring about progressive and effective change. Most importantly, God helps those who help themselves.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Obama's Speech on Libya (VIDEO)

In case you missed it:
Video after the jump:



Monday, March 28, 2011

Does Obama's Race Explain Why Republicans are now a MAJORITY Birther Party?

After 9/11, you might recall that a few sparsely populated factions of conspiracy theorists known as "Truthers" began to pop up here or there with an ultimately unsuccessful (and in most instances laughable) attempt to persuade the American public that the 9/11 tragedy had inside support from the U.S. government and, in particular, from President Bush.  As mentioned, the movement was largely seen as un-American and denounced by both Democrats and Republicans alike.  Van Jones, one of Obama's former advisers, was promptly fired by the Obama Administration when his signature surfaced on a 2004 petition about the Truther movement, even though he publicly denounced the theory.  When Ahmadinejad went on his Truther rant at the U.N. in 2010 the United States delegation, comprised mostly of Democrats, immediately stood up and walked out.  Indeed, the Democratic leadership, by and large, denounced the very notion that Bush had anything to do with the fall of the twin towers.  Given the strong anti-Bush sentiment felt both domestically and around the globe, it would have been politically expedient - although very dangerous - for the Democrats to start circulating talking points linking Bush to 9/11.  But the Democratic leadership did the right thing and publicly condemned the notion.  Unfortunately, their colleagues on the other side of the aisle seem to have difficulty reciprocating the same gesture.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Reviews-Black Panthers, Heaven's Fall and Vampires



Black Panther-The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas
Emory Douglas was the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party. He was its best known and most skilled and provocative artist. Often times political art, not to put too fine a word on it, stinks. Douglas’ work is the notable exception to this rule. Douglas has a commitment to social change and an ability to bring forth both strong engaging images of both humanity and depravity. These abilities work hand in hand to animate his art. If you know anything at all about the Black Panther Party and the movement of the sixties and seventies, you know who he is. And even if you don’t know who he is, chances are you’ve seen his art.

Black Panther:The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas is a collection of Mr. Douglas’ art. The book is over 200 pages with index, paperback and is about 8.5” by 13”.  It also combines the artwork with analysis of what was going on at the time, personal memories and media depictions of the era. The preface is written by the actor Danny Glover, who states that “ Certainly the art and images that Emory Douglas created played a significant role in that whole process which in turn created a sense of empowerment and entitlement. We are all the better for it.” If you want to talk about social realism, Douglas embodied it. This is a very worthwhile book. Recollections or praise are also shared by such luminaries as Kathleen Cleaver, Sonia Sanchez, Ishmael Reed, Amiri Baraka, John Sinclair,  Malaquias Montoya, Boots Riley, and Bobby Seale.
 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why Chris Brown Can't Get Right

I had my fingers set to type about the substantive political issues of our day and now find myself annoyed at the fact that I have to take 5 to talk about this cat once again who can't seem to get right.  For those of you who don't know, I'm talking about Chris Brown's recent fit of violence on Good Morning America (you couldn't act civilized on Good Morning America of all places?  Really?) where he stormed off set, took his shirt off and busted a window out with a chair in his dressing room after one of the hosts, Robbin Roberts, asked him questions about his situation with Rihanna.  (Good Morning America actually did not press charges for the window, by the way.)  Brown, not wishing to discuss his past mistakes, tried to steer the discussion towards his new album, but when Roberts brought it back full circle Brown cut his appearance short and stormed out mad, taking his frustrations to twitter:

"I'm so over people bringing this past sh-t up!!!Yet we praise Charlie sheen and other celebs for there [sic] bullshit!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tips to Survive in Corporate America



I've been in corporate America for a while now. I've learned from that experience. Although I wrote this with Black people in mind it really applies to anyone who works for other people. If you work for yourself, I salute you.

I want to share some tips on surviving in corporate America that I've learned either from my own adventures or observing those of other people. I'm not saying I do or have done all of these.

1) Always strive for excellence:  There's no reason you shouldn't be the best at your job. Ok, maybe there is a reason but you should certainly TRY to be the best. And if you fail try harder next time. This is especially important if you happen to be Black as likely there are more than a few people in your company who have negative stereotypes about your intelligence, your credentials, your work ethic and the quality of work that you produce. But Black or not, one of the best ways to keep your job and/or rise in the company is to have an unblemished reputation for quality work and for being able to pick up new assignments quickly. Bosses love subordinates that can take on difficult assignments with aplomb and make the bosses look good. This leads to the next point.


2) Never stop learning:  So you have a bachelor's degree or a master's degree (or two), or maybe a Ph.D, or a J.D or a M.B.A. or an M.D. or so on. Good for you. But what have you done to increase your knowledge lately? The knowledge base changes quickly. You need to keep up. This may involve on the job training or classes or it might mean online, night or weekend classes at a local community college. It might mean shadowing the local experts at your job until you learn everything they do. It might mean getting that extra degree. It could mean obtaining additional certifications in your field. It might mean getting involved in outside organizations set up for people in your field and attending conferences, writing papers or giving lectures. Maybe you should also learn your co-worker's job.

3) Always touch base with your boss: Generally speaking bosses don't like surprises. You need to let him or her regularly know the project status.  Although some bosses are more hands on (something I find greatly irritating) many are not. All they care about is hearing "Yes, the assignment was completed/deal was closed/etc" at the appropriate time. Don't ever mistake a boss' friendliness for him or her being a true friend. Their interest is in your production. Just because you may happen to share gender and race with your boss, don't think that you have leeway to let things slide. Your boss has to answer to supervisors just as you do.


4) Use Careful Communication: In terms of emails, instant messages, written documents, text messages, chances are that your company either views what you write or maintains an archive of what you wrote. Some companies use key-loggers.  And I'm not even going to get started about inappropriate internet usage. There are different rules at various companies but a good rule of thumb is that if you wrote it over their network, it's theirs. They can look at it if they want to do so. So if you really don't want HR reading the salacious IM's you and the curvy young lady from General Ledger send each other or if you realize that the partner probably wouldn't be amused by the scatological joke emails you and your buddy in Purchasing exchange, don't send those things in the first place. This also applies to work related email exchanges where people from different departments get snippy with each other over who's to blame for a mistake. As a department head told me once, "Shady, just pick up a phone and call him!! No need for the email chain". 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Libya War: Constitutional or Not?



You don't look like who you say you are


"Just trust me."

People may accept those words from a spouse or loved one. But when it comes to business, to the parts of our lives that are not experienced under an umbrella of mutual intimacy, people are less trusting. Few would accept those words from someone on the other side of the negotiating table, a used car dealer, a boss or rival at work, or a political leader.

And yet that is what President Obama is asking the US citizenry to do. The President has claimed that he thought very long and hard before committing to intervening in the war against Libya. Well, bully for him. How wonderful that he is a thoughtful, deliberative man.

Problem is as Kucinich and several other political leaders have pointed out, it's not HIS decision to make.
There are three major arguments to make against this war-constitutional, pragmatic and political. I think the constitutional one is the strongest so that is where I will start. I will also briefly address some of the common counterarguments. The one argument that I won't address is that other people did it too. That doesn't work when someone is charged with bank robbery and it shouldn't apply here.

Constitutional

Obama, as a candidate, said this to the Boston Globe.

Q. In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites -- a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)
OBAMA: "The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."

"As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent."
Of course like many other people, he changed his mind once HE was the person in charge. If we accept this it shows that despite our protestations to the contrary we really don't want a constitutional republic. This is dangerous. A major pillar of this 200 year+ experiment in separation of powers is that war is simply too dangerous and too seductive to be left to just one man.

Monday, March 21, 2011

11-year-old girl raped: Some in community say "She asked for it" - REALLY?

Some things in life have so many elements that are horrible on so many levels, at times I don't know what bothers me more or even where to begin.

Let me say this up front....

If an 11 year old girl, stood in front of ANYONE, butt naked with a neon sign that said "Come and get it boys" each and EVERYONE who took her up on her offer should be put into Gen Pop and let prison justice decide their fate!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Book Reviews-Alien Invasions, Black Heroes and Dangerous Women


Infected by Scott Sigler.
The typical alien invasion book features squirmy octopus looking beings that arrive on Earth and start shooting everyone with plasma beams.  There’s also normally a dastardly effete scientist or politician who either wants to learn from these invaders or worse, sell out humanity to the aliens. In the end the good guys win.  They are led to victory by a team that includes a tall square jawed hero, his take-no-nonsense girl Friday, a plucky sidekick and maybe a dog.
Infected, by Scott Sigler is not that book.
The immediate difference is the scale of Sigler’s invasion. What if the alien invasion is not on the macro level but on the micro level? The human body is home to a multitude of viruses, bacteria and parasites. There are over 1000 different sorts of parasites that can live in humans. Some of these are relatively benign but many are quite disgusting and dangerous. Most are invisible to the human eye.  

Infected examines what happens when an alien bioengineered parasite infects humans, turning some of them into lunatic killing machines while making others behave in even more disturbing ways. The parasites have a greater purpose besides just killing other people.  This was a really disturbing book and I mean that as the highest of compliments to the author. I liked it a lot!!! I liked that the author is a Michigan native and sets most of the story in my college town, Ann Arbor and its bedroom communities. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

UN approves no fly-zone for Libya


  
The UN Security Council voted unanimously (10-0) to extend a no-fly zone over Libya.

United Nations (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council voted Thursday evening to impose a no-fly zone and other measures to try to halt Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's rapid advances against rebel positions in his country.
Diplomats warned that action was needed before Gadhafi reached the opposition stronghold of Benghazi and crush the movement.
"We should not arrive too late," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.
The resolution was approved with 10 votes. China, Russia, Germany, India and Brazil abstained.

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A draft included language stating that "all necessary means" could be used to prevent the "slaughter of civilians," a diplomat said. Opposition leaders wanted U.N. action because of recent gains made by Gadhafi forces and the imminent offensive against Benghazi. "We're hoping and praying that the United Nations will come up with a very firm and very fast resolution and they will enforce it immediately," said Ahmed El-Gallal, a senior opposition coordinator.
In a radio address aired on Libyan state TV, Gadhafi criticized residents of Benghazi and called them "traitors" for seeking help from outsiders.

U.S. military officials have said that a no-fly zone would typically be enforced by fighter jets whose speed and altitude make it difficult to target Gadhafi's helicopters and that it would not halt the heavy artillery the regime is using on the ground. A draft version of a proposed resolution goes beyond a no-fly zone. It includes language saying U.N. member states could "take all necessary measures ... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force."
It also condemns the "gross and systematic violation of human rights, including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, and torture and summary executions."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would not act without a U.N. resolution.
"The international community is debating how best to prevent Gadhafi from overrunning the opposition and killing many more innocent people," she said Thursday during a visit to nearby Tunisia.
Tunisia knows very well that if Gaddafi does not go, he will most likely cause trouble for you, for Egypt and for everybody else. That is just his nature. You know, there are some creatures that are like that," she said.

She said: 'A no-fly zone requires certain actions taken to protect the planes and the pilots, including bombing targets like the Libyan defense systems.'



I think this is a bad idea for a number of reasons.  I will do my best to be concise.  I do want to state upfront that this should not be taken as a defense of Khadafy or any other dictator.  Neither I nor anyone reading this knows the future. Not even Mrs. Clinton.
I feel better knowing stable people are in charge.

Mouth Meet Foot: WNBA/Former Rutgers Player Cappie Pondexter Disses Japan

You might recall the Don Imus controversy some years back where your boy Imus lost his natural mind and said that the Rutgers women's basketball squad were some "nappy headed ho's."  There was a national outcry.  Imus lost his job for a few weeks.  Sharpton marched.  The Rutgers coach co-signed.  And, not to be left out, Cappie Pondexter had this to say:

"I am confident that Coach Stringer and the Rutgers Women's Basketball team will handle this situation with class as always. Coach Stringer does a fantastic job in adverse situations. I know that the state of New Jersey, the university, family and friends will refuse to let this ignorance soil their achievements. These young women played their hearts out during the NCAA tournament and I thought they represented Rutgers University with the utmost class!
"Imus' racial comments are unacceptable and inappropriate. The fact that this is not the first time that improper comments were made concerning Black athletes shows where Imus stands. Not only were the comments racist, they were also misogynistic. Therefore, I do not feel that an apology or the two week suspension is ample punishment. It is my understanding that his show is supposed to be comedic. Who does this humor?
Nonetheless, I believe that MSNBC/CBS will make the right decision." 

Just so we're clear, those kind of comments are "unnacceptable," and any apology or two week suspension for those kind of comments is not "ample punishment."  Got it.  Just wanted to be clear on that point.   And for the record, I agree with that general sentiment that was expressed here against Imus.  Of course, we didn't need all the glamor, glitz, fan fair and other oportunistic side effects that tend to come along with a public denouncement of this calliber, but nevertheless the underlying point made here at the end of the day against Imus was a legitimate one.  If only this story stopped here...but unfortunatley it doesn't.

Cappie Pondexter.  Open Mouth.  Insure Foot.  Close Mouth.

March Madness: TUP Challenge!


LAST CHANCE BEFORE THE TOURNAMENT BEGINS!!!
LET'S GET IT ON!!!
Let the Madness begin!


It's time to take a break from politics and have some fun.  Challenge The Fed, The Janitor, GODSON and Shady Grady in our 1st annual Tournament Challenge!  Do you know your college basketball?  Even if you don't, come join us! 

You got a team?  You got a region?  You got a state?  You got a conference?  Let the trash talk and braggin rights begin!  Put your comments below, support your team or just talk trash about how your bracket is doing (or how bad other brackets are doing)

Here's the catch - YOU ONLY GET ONE ENTRY!!!!!  None of that 5 to 6 entry stuff.  One shot!  If you win, brag about it!  If you lose, try again next year!

Even though the tournament starts tomorrow, your brackets MUST be submitted by Thursday! Good luck!

Get in the action now (You may need to create a profile/username on ESPN if you haven't done so already - It's Free):


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Midterm Election Backlash Part VII: FL Gov. Scott Ends Voting Rights for Ex-Convicts

My blog partner Shady Grady said it best "The recent election let the loonies out to run the asylum."  I couldn't agree more.  Now for your average low-information voter, most people during the midterm elections last November could not fully appreciate the impact that putting the Tea Party Republicans into power would have on our day to day lives.   Many people did not vote in the midterm election and of those who did, many of them bought into the hype that the Tea Party could somehow deliver positive change for the average American Joe.  But what we've seen so far is anything but that.  In case you haven't been paying attention, upon electing the Republicans this past November we've seen (i) our federal government almost crash to a halt; (ii) a rejection of federal high speed rail programs in Republican-run states that not only would have put people to work but also would have improved our infrastructure as a nation; (iii) a full out assault on the collective bargaining rights of public unions; (iv) rioting in the streets by 10's of thousands of citizens in opposition to said assault on the collective bargaining rights of unions; (v) an attack on state budgets for teachers and other state employees; (vi) "birther"-driven initiatives at the ballot that will require Obama to re-present his birth certificate...again, and (vii) this latest move by the midterm-elected Florida Governor Rick Scott to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters who have recently been released from prison (who, by the way, just so happen to be predominantly Black and Latino). 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

NAACP Snubs Black Media


This year the NAACP made a terrible blunder, which could ultimately cost them the support of the black community, which many may argue was already the case. The NAACP Awards Show came and went without so much as one advertisement in any black newspaper in the country. This "grave mistake" as described by NAACP President Ben Jealous, has the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), an organization of more than 200 black owned newspapers, in a serious uproar. Danny Bakewell, Chairman of the organization had this to say:


“If the NAACP desires to advertise with the white press, they need to understand and experience the repercussions of going outside of their “house” (The Black Press). The NAACP needs to know that by ignoring the Black Press they are ‘cutting off their nose to spite their face,’” Bakewell said in a March 7 letter to NNPA publishers, obtained by the Trice Edney News Wire. “We have marched side by side with them and been their voice in the African American community. It is truly disheartening to be on the battlefield with someone and not be able to share in the spoils.”

Alexandra Wallace's Anti-Asian Rant

I am like SO not racist...
If you hadn't heard, recently a UCLA poli-sci student and part-time model named Alexandra Wallace posted a video of herself mocking students of apparent Asian descent, their supposed propensity for rude behavior in libraries and other cultural differences. As people tend to do she also felt it necessary to mock the sound of East Asian languages, which are often either tonal or pitch accented and have quite a contrast in timbre to English.
As might be expected, the video was not well received by many people. There was quite vicious and violent language posted in response to the video-including alleged death threats.
"Wallace contacted university police early Sunday evening after receiving numerous death threats via e-mail and phone, said UCPD spokeswoman Nancy Greenstein. Police advised her to take a number of precautions and are currently working to ensure her safety, Greenstein said."
Phil Gussin, Wallace’s political science professor, said Wallace contacted him with concern about how she would take her finals. Gussin said Wallace told him that police advised her to reschedule her final exams in light of the death threats and information posted online that listed her class schedule and exam locations.
Greenstein said police are working with Wallace to determine when she will take her finals.
Gussin said he is concerned for Wallace’s safety and is frustrated at the violent response some people have expressed. “What Wallace did was hurtful and inexcusable, but the response has been far more egregious,” Gussin said. “She made a big mistake, and she knows it, but … they responded with greater levels of intolerance.”
The chancellor said he was "appalled" at the video. Wallace removed the video and apologized.
“Clearly the original video posted by me was inappropriate. I cannot explain what possessed me to approach the subject as I did, and if I could undo it, I would. I’d like to offer my apology to the entire UCLA campus. For those who cannot find it within them to accept my apology, I understand.” 
Robert Naples, (associate vice chancellor and dean of students)  called the video “beyond distasteful,” saying that her comments in no way represent the views of the UCLA as a community.
Naples said he personally received more than 100 e-mails of complaint from individuals all over the country, primarily from people affiliated with UCLA. The university has yet to get in contact with Wallace, but hopes to meet with her as soon as possible to determine the appropriate response, Naples said.
“We’ll be taking a look at the language that she uses in the video to see if it violates any codes under the student code, perhaps regarding harassment,” Naples said. However, the student code in no way usurps the authority of the First Amendment, Naples said.
Watch the entire short video below.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

As UN Contemplates No Fly Zone Libyan Rebels Lose Ground



For a while it seemed as if Libya was to emulate the Egyptian Revolution, but as more time lapses and the UN continues to mull over the no fly zone, the plight of the Libyan rebels is taking a turn for the worst.

Gadhafi's forces recaptured the key oil port of Ras Lanuf this weekend while continuing there march toward the rebels eastern strongholds. While the Arab League, a 22 nation coalition, continues to press the UN to initiate a no fly zone over the war torn country, to prevent Gadhafi forces from wiping out civilians, the UN as well as President Obama are stuck in limbo. France and Britain have called for a no fly zone in the past, yet the days and weeks are passing and the people of Libya are fighting for their survival, with no help from those who are in a position to do so.

Should the UN/US get involved in the civil war in Libya?


Why is the decision to initiate a no fly zone becoming such a drawn out battle?


What are the Libyan rebels fighting for exactly and why is there plight important?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Battle of Wisconsin


Well, that's that. The Wisconsin Senate Republicans used a possibly illegal parliamentary maneuver to break the gridlock over the issue of public workers rights and passed a bill which restricts the collective bargaining rights of  public sector workers. Scott Walker looks like he may have a win. For now. I am positive that if this change becomes law that Wisconsin will become a virtual new Eden of economic development as businesses fall over themselves to move to a state with weakened public sector unions who gave up money and rights to lure these companies there. I mean low wages and weak unions are the stepping stones to prosperity, right?

In an 18-to-1 vote, the Senate Republicans approved the restrictions on collective bargaining.
Republican Sen. Dale Schultz, the lone no vote, warned his GOP colleagues: "This issue is not going away."
"In 30 minutes, 18 state senators un-did 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten," Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller said. Miller and other Senate members said they would now be coming back to the state and continuing the fight.

The Senate bill severely restricts collective bargaining for tends of thousands of the state's public worker unions and increases their health care and pension contributions.
The measure has prompted massive demonstrations in the state capital by the bill's opponents and triggered a wave of recall campaigns targeting both the governor's supporters and opponents in the legislature.

On Wednesday night in the Capitol, the ground floor and first floor appeared nearly as full as they were during the first days of the demonstrations more than three weeks ago, and protesters stayed in the Capitol overnight, defiantly chanting "recall" and "Whose house? Our house!"
Outside the Assembly chamber, Barca allowed protesters to fill out forms listing themselves as witnesses to a violation of the state's open meetings laws, stemming from the Republicans' earlier conference committee meeting. 

Let's be honest about this and drop the niceties for one moment. I know that there are reasonable people on both sides of the spectrum. I know and work with a great many honorable and decent Republican leaning people. I don't think they strangle puppies and foreclose on widows before breakfast-at least not all of them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Remembering Biggie Smalls



Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Revolutionary Warfare 101: Che, Benicio and Libya



At the funeral for Ernesto Che Guevara in 1967 Fidel Castro read the eulogy, describing Che as an "Artist of Revolutionary Warfare," a title well earned by the Commandante, who had risen to become the most important figure in the Cuban revolution, arguably above even Castro himself. Part of it is that the charismatic physician from Argentina had become a legend even before the revolution had seized control of the country. His style of what we now call community organizing, one village at a time was the second phase of the revolutionary code. The other phase was guerilla warfare.

The Gitmo Problem

In the latest chapter of the Guantanamo Bay ("Gitmo") debacle, President Obama appears to have gone the way of President G.W. Bush on the issue of resuming the military tribunals there at Gitmo.  Before we get started on that issue though, as a brief recap, we have written on this topic extensively HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE, and we even provided an in-depth break down HERE as to why military tribunals are no better (and are, in fact, worse) than Federal Courts (aka "Civilian Courts") when it comes to prosecuting terrorist suspects.  So please refer back to those posts (especially the break down post) for background info as needed.  Now, having said all of that, let us return our attention to this latest announcement by President Obama to continue one of the signature policies of the Bush Administration regarding the War on Terror: the military tribunal.  Per the Washington Post:

President Obama signed an executive order Monday that will create a formal system of indefinite detention for those held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who continue to pose a significant threat to national security. The administration also said it will start new military commission trials for detainees there.
The announcements, coming more than two years after Obama vowed in another executive order to close the detention center, all but cements Guantanamo Bay's continuing role in U.S. counterterrorism policy.
Administration officials said the president is still committed to closing the prison, although he made no mention of that goal in a short statement Monday. The administration's original plans to create a detention center in the United States and prosecute some detainees in federal court have all but collapsed in the face of bipartisan congressional opposition.
The executive order recognizes the reality that some Guantanamo Bay detainees will remain in U.S. custody for many years, if not for life. The new system allows them the prospect of successfully arguing in the future that they should be released because they do not pose a threat.
"Today, I am announcing several steps that broaden our ability to bring terrorists to justice, provide oversight for our actions and ensure the humane treatment of detainees," Obama said in statement. "I strongly believe that the American system of justice is a key part of our arsenal in the war against al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and we will continue to draw on all aspects of our justice system - including [federal] Article III Courts - to ensure that our security and our values are strengthened."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Book Reviews-Smoking and Savages

Everybody Smokes in Hell by John Ridley.
John Ridley is among other things, a screenwriter. He was the screenwriter for the movies U-Turn (which was based on his book Stray Dogs) and Undercover Brother. This book has a very visual element to it. I’ve read that it was originally a movie script. Ridley does not appear to be overly fond of LA or the people in the entertainment industry. As he writes in the opening “Any similarities between the miscreants in this story and the actual insipid degenerates who populate the city I hate more than cancer are purely coincidental.
The action is set in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.  Paris Scott is a black thirty something loser who works the night shift at an LA mini-mart. His girlfriend just dumped him. She accurately described him as too old to be a slacker and too young to be a bum.  Paris is working one night when a severely depressed and barely functional rock star named Ian Jermaine (A thinly disguised Kurt Cobain) enters the store near closing time. Feeling sorry for him Paris takes the depressed musician back to Jermaine’s hotel room. Once they arrive Jermaine commits suicide. Paris winds up with a CD of Jermaine's unreleased final recording. He returns home and hides this in his sofa.
Meanwhile Paris' roommate has just completed a rip-off of the meanest heroin dealer on the West Coast, one Daymond Evans. The roommate flees back to the apartment where he also hides the heroin in the sofa.
Of course neither roommate tells the other what he did. Each of them proceeds to negotiate a reselling of the "stolen" material to the record company and the drug dealer.  As both men are thoroughly inept at this the record company executive and Evans each independently decide that they would just rather kill them and retrieve their merchandise. When Paris’ roommate comes down with a sudden case of death both the record company and the drug dealer send their teams after Paris. Something approaching hilarity ensues as Ridley does an accurate satire of the common predatory tactics to be found in Hollywood and the underworld. Ridley has said that this book was his version of a Preston Sturges screwball mix-up. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Oscars, Black Movies and Exclusion


Let’s discuss the 2010 paucity of black actors in lead roles in mainstream Hollywood movies or the lack of quality black oriented films. A recent NYT article did that.
Crammed into this year’s field of 10 best picture Oscar nominees are British aristocrats, Volvo-driving Los Angeles lesbians, a flock of swans, a gaggle of Harvard computer geeks, clans of Massachusetts fighters and Missouri meth dealers, as well as 19th-century bounty hunters, dream detectives and animated toys. It’s a fairly diverse selection in terms of genre, topic, sensibility, style and ambition. But it’s also more racially homogenous — more white — than the 10 films that were up for best picture in 1940, when Hattie McDaniel became the first black American to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in “Gone With the Wind.” In view of recent history the whiteness of the 2011 Academy Awards is a little blinding.
This retreat from race by the big studios partly explains the emergence of a newly separate black cinema with its own stars (Morris Chestnut, Vivica A. Fox), auteurs (Ice Cube, Tyler Perry) and genres (including tales of buppie courtship like “Two Can Play That Game” and of neighborhood striving like the “Barbershop” franchise). Emerging from outside the mainstream and indie world, the prolific Mr. Perry has become one of the most successful directors and producers of any color.
Mr. Lee has been among Mr. Perry’s critics. “We’ve got a black president, and we’re going back,” Mr. Lee said in 2009. “The image is troubling, and it harkens back to Amos ’n’ Andy.” The philosopher Cornel West has been more charitable (“Brother Tyler can mature”) and last year he put a larger frame around the issue of race and the movies in America, noting that with “all the richness in black life right now,” that “the only thing Hollywood gives us is black pathology. Look at the Oscars. Even ‘Precious,’ with my dear sister Mo’Nique, what is it? Rape, violation, the marginalized. Or else you get white missionary attitudes toward black folk. ‘The Blind Side?’ Oh my God! In 2010? I respect Sandra Bullock’s work, but that is not art.”
This summoned forth exasperation and frustration from various people of differing ideologies who were tired of hearing presumably liberal whites or Blacks complain about this. Not all of these people were conservative though many of them were white. The writer Mitch Albom, who tends liberal on social issues, proclaimed on his radio show “Aren’t we over this?”  Evidently we are not.
Recently Anthony Mackie added more fuel to the fire when he said in an interview that Blacks in Hollywood were being lazy.
"To be honest I think the barriers have been broken. I think right now [blacks] are being kinda lazy on our game," Mackie said. "There are enough brothers with distribution deals and production deals where we should be making our own movies."
Mackie, who starred as Tupac Shakur in 2009's Notorious, said there is no shortage of black directors, writers or stars.
"Oprah got her own network," Mackie said. "Michael Jordan own a franchise. We got black money. So there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to tell the stories that we want to tell and portray ourselves the way we want to be portrayed."
I like Mr. Mackie and I really enjoyed his work in Night Catches Us
I’m glad to hear that he will be taking a prominent role in a film adaptation of a book I’m reading now, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith.
 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

False Equivalence of the Week: The Whites-Only College Scholarship

It was bound to happen sooner or later.  We all should have known that in this so-called post-racial age of Obama it was only a matter of time before somebody stepped up to make the argument that White is the new Black.  After all, we have a Black President now.  Clearly, that alone signifies to experts in race relations like Dr. Laura that the dog days of racism are over for Black people.  Not only are they over for Blacks, but they are just getting started for Whites.  Before you know it, there will be "Blacks Only" drinking fountains and "Blacks Only" lunch counters.  And if you believe any of that, I have some land to sell you in Florida.

March Book of the Month: The Warmth of Other Suns



The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
by
Isabel Wilkerson


From Publisher's Weekly:

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Generation Lost?: A Final Word on Black History Month 2011

When Dr. Carter G. Woodson started black history week in 1926, his intention was to emphasize the accomplishments of African American people in order to create an identity for a people that, at the time, had none. He taught that in order for black people to ever reach a point of overcoming the tragic effects of the Willie Lynch massacre, they had to feel the same sense of pride and dignity other races feel, which gives them the ability to create a positive environment for themselves and their families. To know one’s history is to have the tools necessary to ensure a successful future. A cliché I know, yet the generations of children that are being educated in American schools are not interested in learning about the history that gives them their place in society. Their place in society is dictated by the trash they see on television and the music they submerge their minds in, which teaches them how to know the streets, but not much more.

Dr. King discussed the concept of a people who could not be expected to assimilate into a system to which they feel no connection. He knew that if black folks did not develop a sense of self that eventually the rage associated with being isolated from society would spill into civil unrest.

There is, and has been for some time, a serious psychological assault against the minds of our youth in general, but against black youth in particular. The attack is being administered using many tools, most recognizably the sounds of Waka Flaka or 50 Cent, who offer little in the areas of social responsibility or any sort of consciousness. These artists are shaping the perceptions of a huge portion of the black youth in this country and are shaping the black history that our great grandchildren will enjoy.

Speaking of Scapegoats...

Yesterday we had a good discussion about income inequality and the futility of the lower 99% of the country fighting it out amongst themselves whenever hard economic times hit instead of looking at the source of the problem (the top 1%).  John Stewart and the folks over at the Daily Show must have heard us talking because yesterday's clip hits the nail on the head: